The week after Thanksgiving is known for box-office declines comparable to a post-cupcake sugar crash, so it’s going to be pretty dead out there, folks. Only one new movie – the Korean/English-language/filmed in New Zealand/Western/marital-arts epic The Warrior’s Way – is being released wide, while my pick for one of the most brilliantly gutsy movies of the year, Black Swan, is being unveiled in select cities. The box office will likely be dominated by Thanksgiving weekend’s main two courses: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Tangled. However, the latter should actually overtake Deathly Hallows this weekend, for reasons I’ll explain right now. My predictions:
1. Tangled: $24.5 million
Disney’s fairy-tale musical surprised the entire industry by coming within $300,000 of beating Deathly Hallows last holiday weekend. While family films have historically tumbled the week after Thanksgiving, Tangled has been blessed with extraordinary word-of-mouth. CinemaScore audiences gave the animated movie an “A+” grade, the first time a film’s earned that grade since last year’s The Blind Side. In fact, The Blind Side is a perfect comparison point for Tangled. Last year, The Blind Side dropped 50 percent during the week after Thanksgiving – the smallest slip of any wide release – and overtook The Twilight Saga: New Moon to wind up as No. 1 for the first time. Expect a nearly identical drop for Tangled, giving it a $24.5 million weekend and a cumulative tally of nearly $100 million by Sunday night.
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1: $18 million
Potter, on the other hand, better hold on tight to his Firebolt broomstick, as Deathly Hallows will likely nosedive at least 60 percent this weekend. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the last Potter film to be released in November, fell 64 percent the week after Thanksgiving. And The Twilight Saga: New Moon also dropped 64 percent during this frame last year. There’s no reason to expect a different result for Deathly Hallows. An $18 million weekend will bring the fantasy film’s total gross to $245 million.
3. Megamind: $6 million
Despite intense competition from Tangled and Deathly Hallows, the DreamWorks Animation comedy has so far displayed superhuman stamina, becoming the movie of choice for boys who are a) too young for Deathly Hallows, and b) too “manly” for Tangled. A drop of 52 percent will put it neck and neck with Unstoppable, but I give Megamind the edge.
4. Unstoppable: $6 million
Like Megamind, this PG-13 runaway-train thriller, starring Denzel Washington, has been decelerating at an impressively gradual speed. During Thanksgiving weekend, the movie fell only 12 percent. The Warrior’s War may cut into its testosterone-fueled audience a bit, but Unstoppable should continue to hold up fairly well. Figure a decline of just under 50 percent.
5. The Warrior’s Way: $5.5 million
The martial arts-Western hybrid, featuring an eclectic cast including South Korean star Jang Dong-gun, Kate Bosworth, and Geoffrey Rush, is opening at 1,622 theaters. The $42 million film should attract hard-core martial arts fans, but everyone else will probably be turned off by the project’s sheer strangeness. Furthermore, the movie isn’t being screened for critics, and production finished way back in early 2008. It’s taken quite a long time for The Warrior’s Way to reach theaters, and whether it’s warranted or not, the R-rated flick will likely vanish in a flash.
6. Burlesque: $5 million
Those who saw Burlesque really liked it – the movie earned an “A-” from CinemaScore audiences. But I’m betting those who went to see the $55 million Cher-Christina Aguilera musical knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, and were going to leave the theater in a cheerful mood no matter what. For comparison’s sake, Rent debuted on Thanksgiving weekend five years ago and then tangoed down a 56 percent hill the following week. Although my broker keeps telling me that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, in this instance, I’m betting on a similar dive for Burlesque.
In limited release, Darren Aronofsky’s ballet-horror film Black Swan, starring the sure-to-be-nominated-for-an-Oscar Natalie Portman, opens at 18 theaters. The exhilaratingly nutso movie demands to be seen on the big screen, so seek it out if you can. Also, the oft-delayed Jim Carrey romantic comedy I Love You, Phillip Morris starts its journey at six locations.